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Laidlaw Schools Trust is governed by a board of trustees which is responsible for the work of the Trust, including the running of our academies.

To support the effective operation of the Trust and our academies, the board has established a number of committees:

  • Audit Committee
  • Estates Committee
  • Operations Committee
  • People Committee
  • Standards Committee

The Governance Manager can be contacted at:

0191 662 2400 or Laidlaw Schools Trust, Suite 2, 3rd Floor, St Nicholas Building, St Nicholas Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RF.

Each academy also has a local board of governors, responsible for ensuring the highest standards of teaching and wellbeing. Each board is a ‘critical friend’ to that school as well as a champion of pupils, teachers and the wider community.

Statutory documents relating to the Trust Board governance arrangements, scheme of delegation, committee terms of reference and details of Trustees are available in the Governance section of Policies and Documents.

Financial information, including annual accounts, executive pay and gender pay gap reports, are available in our Finance section. 

Local Governing Board membership and attendance records are available in the Key Information Section of each Academy's website (direct links to these pages are available in the Governance section of Policies and Documents.

Would you like to use your knowledge and expertise to support children to become active, responsible and successful global citizens with Laidlaw Schools Trust? Become a trustee and work closely with Laidlaw Schools Trust to support its goal of transforming lives through extraordinary education.

Become a Trustee

Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay - Founder & Sponsor

IrvineLaidlawIrvine Laidlaw is passionate about supporting young people to better themselves and achieve their maximum potential, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. He is a generous supporter of the Trust allowing opportunities for pupils and students to access the kinds of life-changing activities and support they would otherwise find hard to access.

Lord Laidlaw is also a big believer in having the right kind of environment to support teaching and learning and has supported this by providing funding for better accommodation in our academies. He is keen to sponsor other Academies and would welcome interest from schools wishing to become academies in the North East of England area.

Sir David Carter - Member and Chair

SirDavidSir David was the product of a comprehensive school in South Wales and was the first member of his family to go to university where he studied for a Music degree at Royal Holloway College, London. Making a difference to the lives of children has been a huge motivation to him throughout his career. He began his career as a Music teacher in 1983 and went on to become a Local Authority Music Advisor, a Headteacher, an Executive Head and, between 2007 and 2014, the CEO of the Cabot Learning Federation, a multi-academy trust in Bristol. 

In 2014, Sir David was appointed to be the first Regional Schools Commissioner in the South West and took up the position of National Schools Commissioner (NSC) in December 2015. As NSC, his focus was firmly on building capacity so that the trusts that run our most challenging schools can sustain improvement over time. 

From 2018 to 2021, Sir David was the Director of System Leadership at the Ambition Institute and now works with a number of schools and trusts advising them on their strategy. In August 2020, Sir David published his book “Leading Academy Trusts: Why Some Fail, but Most Don’t”. Sir David is a trustee at several charities including Centrepoint, which aims to eradicate youth homelessness. He is also a trustee at the Laidlaw Foundation. 

Sir David continues to place family, music, golf and Cardiff City FC at the heart of his relaxation time and continues to be very proud of being awarded a knighthood for his services to education in 2013.

Naill Santamaria - Member

Web SummitNiall is an experienced investor and advisor to senior management teams. He is currently the Chief Investment Officer for the Laidlaw Private Office and Laidlaw Scholars Ventures, a fund established to invest exclusively in startups owned and led by Laidlaw Scholars. Having begun his career in strategy, both in consultancy and in-house at a media group, he moved into active investment, working closely with management teams, and supporting their development through mentorship, training and strategic advice.

He has always believed in the power of education to improve lives and its importance in enabling people to think broadly about what they learn, their impact within society, and how they capture the opportunities that come their way. Niall studied Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge, where he completed his thesis comparing attitudes towards education in the UK and India, conducting primary research on student perspectives surrounding achievement, opportunity, parental expectation and assessment. He later went on to complete his MBA from the London Business School and is a CFA Charterholder.

Graham Robertson - Member

GrahamRobertsonGraham is an international accountant and has worked with LST since 2006. He played a key role in setting up the Trust and continues to work closely with the Sponsor, CEO and COO.

Matt Waugh - Member

MattWaughMatt is a chartered accountant and the CFO of Highland Group Holdings Ltd, Lord Laidlaw’s private investment group.  He is a widely experienced and commercial ACA with 20 years PQE providing financial leadership to entrepreneurial companies and groups in the SME market.

Matt qualified with a small City firm and, after spells with Grant Thornton and an international property retail group, he spent the last ten years as CFO for several private family offices. These families have engaged in a broad range of commercial investing activities as well as being actively involved in various philanthropic causes.

Susanna V. Kempe - Member & Chair of Trustees

SusannaKempeStandards Committee
Remuneration Committee

Estates Committee

Susanna’s professional experience includes over 15 years in senior leadership roles in international B2B and learning businesses.

She began her career at the Institute for International Research (IIR) where she first worked with Lord Laidlaw, rising to Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). When IIR, was acquired by Informa Plc in 2005 Susanna was appointed CMO of the enlarged group. Susanna subsequently joined Emap Ltd as Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer and CEO of Emap Networks, that group’s conferences business. Later she became CEO of the fashion industry forecaster WGSN and was latterly Group Content and Marketing Partner of the leading strategy consultancy Brunswick Group.

A German-American raised and educated in the UK and a committed internationalist, Susanna has been involved in globally trading businesses throughout her career, directing activity in the Americas, across continental Europe, and the Asia Pacific.

She believes experiencing and appreciating different cultures promotes better global understanding, creativity and leadership. She is passionate about the power of education to transform lives; and is committed to developing a new generation of diverse leaders who are curious, bold and determined to act with integrity.

Susanna read English and Philosophy at Newnham College, University of Cambridge. She has five half blues in swimming and water polo, and played netball and rowed for Newnham.

Linda Conlon MBE - Vice Chair of Trust Board, Trustee

LindaConlonVice Chair of Trust Board, Chair of Remuneration Committee

Linda Conlon is responsible for managing the International Centre for Life, a £90m science village in the heart of Newcastle. It brings together a University medical research institute, two National Health Service clinics, biotechnology businesses, a popular science centre and education facilities on a single site, all with the aim of enriching lives through science. This unique project has fostered inter-disciplinary collaboration among the 600-strong workforce, achieving some spectacular results – e.g. the world’s first cloned human embryo was created at Life.

Life is financially self-sustaining thanks to an entrepreneurial business model, with a diverse range of income generators, including a substantial property portfolio. In 2016, it was awarded the Not for Profit Organisation of the Year Award at the Chamber of Commerce Business Awards.

Linda is a past President of the Association of Science and Technology Centres, the body representing over 650 science centres globally and is currently Chair of its Global Task Force. She was the first European to be elected to the role. She has also served on the Ecsite board and is a former Chair of ASTC.

She is a governor of the Laidlaw Schools Trust, a multi-academy trust that manages a number of schools in the West end of Newcastle and in Sunderland, many of which serve children in severely deprived areas. She was recently appointed to the governing body of Newcastle University and, is also, a trustee of the Heart of the City Partnership, which is charged with safeguarding and promoting Newcastle’s medieval quarter.  Previously, she was a non-executive director of the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust and an executive member of NE1, the Business Improvement District Company for Newcastle. In 2016 she was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) by the Queen for services to science and science education.

Linda’s career before the world of science centres was in regional development and urban regeneration, where she was involved in the creation of major high profile waterfront developments, helping to bring in £1 billion of investment. Before that, she ran her own marketing consultancy and in her early career, worked for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the multi-national company, Procter and Gamble.

Geoffrey Stanford - Trustee

GeoffreyStanfordStandards Committee

Geoffrey Stanford is Head of the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle. He has previously served as a Governor of the Downs School near Newbury, an ‘Outstanding’ state secondary school, and The Dragon School in Oxford, which was rated exceptional by ISI.

After reading Classics at Oxford, he served as a Captain in the Grenadier Guards and worked for both The Boston Consulting Group and Citigroup. Since leaving the city for education he has taught Economics, Business Studies and Latin. He started teaching at Millfield School before spending nearly six years as a Boarding Housemaster and Head of Economics and Business at Pangbourne College. He was Deputy Head (Co-Curriculum) at Sevenoaks school and then Headmaster of Fettes College in Edinburgh. He also holds an MBA from INSEAD in France.

Geoffrey Stanford has a wide range of interests and experiences. He has rowed for England, completed the Marathon des Sables and Devizes to Westminster canoe race, and taken part in a number of expeditions to the Himalayas, including leading an international team to the summit of Mount Everest. He also enjoys playing the French horn. Geoffrey is married and they have two sons.

Nichola Stefanou - Trustee

5EF24BC5 ABBA 4A5A 968A 0B90301F5A16 (002)Operations Committee

Dr Nichola Stefanou has spent over 20 years working across health and social care in a variety of senior leadership positions. Nichola is passionate about the integration of community services to reduce health inequalities. She is currently the CEO of the Healthcare Management Trust an independent health and social care provider and had previously worked as Director of Care and Clinical for Homegroup (one of the UKs largest housing associations). In this role she spearheaded the development of a specialist care arm of the business focusing on those people with complex needs who needed long term health and social care input with bespoke housing in order to live within the community.

Nichola has held senior leadership roles within large NHS provider Trusts and has also worked as a lecturer within higher education. She is dedicated to life long learning and is qualified to doctoral level. 

Nicola Palmarini - Trustee

Nicola PalmariniStandards Committee

Nicola Palmarini is the Director of UK's National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) –  a global organisation supported by an initial investment from UK Government and Newcastle University to help co-innovate - together with citizens and private and public organisations - services, technologies and products and deliver them to the market through innovative, ethical, and sustainable business models. 

Its mission is to “add intelligence to ageing and longevity” by connecting and interpreting the personal, social, environmental and economic dimensions underpinning different life stages. Before, he was a research manager at the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, a $250 million academic-industry partnership for the responsible advancement of artificial intelligence and Head of AI for Healthy Aging at IBM Research in Cambridge, USA. Trained in social and political studies, he developed deep expertise in leading heterogeneous teams and connecting dots across disciplines to bridge academic and industrial research with real-world applications to deliver return-on-community and return-on-business with a specific focus on longevity and the future effects and opportunities of the demographic revolution. He holds a decade of experience in research on supporting older adults’ autonomy and independence, leading a global team to develop Human Activity Recognition techniques dedicated to older adults based on AI applied to IoT data. He is an author, teacher, and applied research scientist. The work of his teams has been awarded the Computer Honors Award, the United Nations for Aging Initiative, the Disability Matters - Market Place Award and the SilverEco Global award.

He is the author of five books and a member of several boards, including the Scientific Advisory Committee at McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA), GIMI (Global Management Innovation Institute), the Humane Technology Lab and the Scientific Board of Political Sciences and International Relations at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Milan.

Paul Foster - Trustee

Paul Foster   photo 1 (1)Chair of Estates Committee

Paul has over 35 years’ professional experience helping clients to better plan, create and operate their built assets across many sectors, including over 25 years in the education sector. 

He began his career as a building services engineer designing public buildings, then requalified as a chartered surveyor.  His experience includes management roles on the development of the Monkswear Campus for University of Sunderland, the redevelopment of the Royal Opera House, the refurbishment of the Royal Albert Hall, and the Channel Tunnel terminal buildings.  He has held senior leadership roles with Aecom and Arcadis (formerly EC Harris), where he was Chief Operating Officer in the Middle East and formerly Group Head of Asset Performance. 

A British national born and raised in Ghana, Paul is committed to education as an enabler of creating life chances for all.  He has served as both a school and further education college governor.  He is also committed to enabling more fulfilling lives for people in later life and is currently a Trustee with the charity Friends of the Elderly and a Commissioner of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the home of the Chelsea Pensioners. 

He has a diverse track record as a non-executive board member, including serving as Chair of RIBA Enterprises based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, preparing the business for further investment to realise its strategic growth plan.  He is currently Chair of Carlton and Castleoak Holdings, and a non-executive director of Lexica and Alliance Homes. 

Outside of his professional and voluntary work, Paul is an Officer in the British Army Reserves.  He is a keen rugby and cricket fan, having played both sports for many years

Paul West - Trustee

PaulWestChair of Standards Committee

Paul is the Chief Executive Officer and Accounting Officer of Spencer Academies Trust, one of the leading multi-academy trusts in the UK with 21 Academies and over 16000 students. Spencer Academies Trust also features a multi-structure Teaching School Alliance, and one of only 22 Research Schools in the UK. Spencer Trust provides educational leadership development programmes for all levels of leadership including executive leadership.

Paul was previously the Executive Director of Education and Executive Principal for Delta Academies Trust, an educational charity and one of the UK’s largest Multi-Academy Trusts with 40 primary and secondary academies and three Free Schools. Paul’s career covers significant experience in school and system leadership as a Principal, Executive Principal and Director in a range of schools in the UK and internationally.

Paul is a trained Ofsted Inspector and in 2011 was recognised as an outstanding system leader through his designation as a National Leader of Education. In 2012 Paul was invited to participate in the National College for Teaching and Leadership’s flagship Fellowship Programme, working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to look at curriculum driven solutions to enable all children and young people to access learning and progression to drive social mobility.

Penny Sehgal - Trustee

PennySehgalChair of Audit Committee, Remuneration Committee

Penny Sehgal read BA (Hons) Accountancy & Law at Newcastle University, graduating with first class honours in 1995 and then trained to become a Chartered Accountant with Pricewaterhouse Coopers (Newcastle). After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, in 1998, Penny Sehgal continued to work with PwC as a Tax Consultant for 5 years. She is now Director in charge of Finance and Marketing for the Michael Sehgal Group, with varied property, healthcare, retail and manufacturing interests and extensive links in the Community to local businesses. As an active member of the Hindu Community, Penny regularly organises religious events and festivals.  She is also a Trustee of The Michael Sehgal Foundation, a charitable organisation that provides sponsorship to assist deserving overseas students to study at Northumbria University and she is a patron member of the Community Foundation, Asian Fund, which provides assistance to numerous local charitable causes.

Peregrine Solly - Trustee

PeregrineSollyChair of Liaison Committee, Representative of Chairs, Operations Committee, Audit Committee, Estates Committee

Prior to his involvement with the Laidlaw Schools Trust and The Children’s Foundation, Peregrine worked for two of the North East’s leading Companies: Vickers plc (later BAE Systems plc) and Scottish and Newcastle plc. His role for both companies took him all over the World and gave him a fascinating and unrivalled experience working across different cultures and different organisations. Peregrine still consults for a number of start-up companies, helping them to develop their businesses internationally. Although he has not been directly involved in education before joining the Trust, Peregrine grew up in a school, his brothers both teach and he is married to a teacher. He fully supports the Trust’s aim of improving the opportunities and life-chances of some of the most disadvantaged children and young people in the North East of England.

Roy Sandbach OBE – Trustee

Professor Roy Sandbach Chair of Operations Committee.

Roy is immediate past-president of the Royal Society of Chemistry Industry Council and a Fellow of the Society. He chairs the RSC Industry Task Force for Sustainable Polymers. He also chairs Northern Accelerator, the research commercialisation programme for the five North East England Universities. He is a board member with the National Centre for Universities & Business.

Roy was first Director of the National Innovation Centre for Ageing at Newcastle University & is Professor of Practice in Population Health. He currently chairs the national inquiry into the use of Technology for our Ageing Population. He is vice-Chair of Sunderland Ageing Well Board.

Roy chaired the first North East England Innovation Board from 2013-18. He sits on the advisory boards for both Newcastle University and Northumbria Business Schools. He is a board member with Sunderland Culture, a governor at the Beacon of Light School in Sunderland and a Member with WISE Academies. He is a board member for the Centre for Life and a Trustee with The Reece Foundation.

Previously, Roy was with the Procter & Gamble Company holding global R&D positions, leading innovation programmes across the world. One of his inventions is a $150M product in the US.

Roy was honoured with an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2017 for services to science, innovation & skills.

Julie McGrane - Additional Member

JulieMcGraneStandards Committee

Julie was a Geography teacher before working for the National College for School Leadership. She now runs Leading Learning (Education) Ltd and Vuwbo Ltd working with schools nationally and beyond supporting improvements in curriculum, classroom practice, professional learning, and leadership.

Julie is a visiting fellow at Newcastle University and the author of a variety of publications from Project Based Learning to Bee education. Most recently, Julie is working in partnership to set up knowhowEd.com which supports Geography and History teaching in primary schools.